Twitter just might help save our republic!
Hyperbole? Maybe a bit, but the good folks at Twitter Vote Report have done a tremendous job in only a few short weeks, putting together a system that uses Twitter to track problems at the polls in real time.
The idea is simple: people use the Twitter service to “tweet” information live from where they’re voting, and the Twitter Vote Report website “scoops up” all this data, and displays it both in a stream of detailed information, as well as visually on a google map. This way, people can track long wait times, voting machine problems, and whatever else happens to come up next Tuesday, and correlate this data to geographic locations.
But it won’t work without people actively sending in information from their polling precincts! So here’s how you can help — with or without a twitter account.
If you already use Twitter, then it’s likely you’ll understand the lingo here. At the very least, you can use the hash tag #votereport to get your tweet to flow into the system. There are also other tags they’ve devised: #[zip code], #machine, #wait:[minutes]. (You can see the website for the full list…)
So, a tweet might look like this:
Lines just not moving here #votereport #10001 #wait:125
Now, if all that looks and sounds like mumbo jumbo to you, then you probably don’t use twitter. Don’t worry — you can still help!
There are three things you can do. First, you can simply send a text to 66937 and start your message with #votereport, and add details about your polling location. Next, you’ll be able to use your phone the old fashioned way, and call in a report using your keypad to (567) 258-VOTE/8683 (not available yet).
The third option, and perhaps most exciting for the tech geeks out there, an iPhone app is coming, which will (probably? hopefully?) use the phone’s GPS to fill in the location information for you.
For those of you who don’t use twitter, and would like to, it’s easy to get setup. Just go to twitter.com and sign up for an account, and follow these instructions to get your cell phone connected to your twitter account.
One final point — there is also a phone number you can call on election day, to speak to an actual human about serious voting problems: 1-866-OUR-VOTE. It’s the number for Election Protection, and you can find out more about them on their website.
And remember, this is a non-partisan effort.
While we don’t hide the partisan tendencies of this blog, there is one thing that cuts across party lines — we all have the right to vote.
Make sure your vote — and the votes of your neighbors — count on election day.